Dec 10 2012

Hekhalot Hymns – The Face of God

Published by at 8:39 am under Poetry

The Face of God
by Hekhalot Hymns (Anonymous)

English version by T. Carmi

Lovely face, majestic face,
      face of beauty, face of flame,
the face of the Lord God of Israel
      when He sits upon His throne of glory,
      robed in praise upon His seat of splendour.
His beauty surpasses
      the beauty of the aged,
His splendour outshines
      the splendour of newly-weds
            in their bridal chamber.

Whoever looks at Him
      is instantly torn;
whoever glimpses His beauty
      immediately melts away.
Those who serve Him today
      no longer serve Him tomorrow;
those who serve Him tomorrow
      no longer serve Him afterwards;
for their strength fails and their faces are charred,
their hearts reel and their eyes grow dim
      at the splendour and radiance
            of their king’s beauty.

Beloved servants, lovely servants,
      swift servants, light-footed servants,
who stand before the stone of the throne
      of glory,
who wait upon the wheel
      of the chariot.
When the sapphire of the throne of glory
      whirls at them,
when the wheel of the chariot
      hurls past them,
those on the right
      now stand again to the left,
those on the left
      now stand again to the right,
those in front
      now stand again in back,
those in back
      now stand again in front.

He who sees the one says,
      ‘That is the other’.
And he who sees the other says,
      ‘That is the one’.
For the visage of the one
      is like the visage of the other;
and the visage of the other
      is like the visage of the one.

Happy the King
      who has such servants,
and happy the servants
      who have such a King.
Happy the eye
      that sees
      and feeds
      upon this wondrous light –
            a wondrous vision
            and most strange!

— from The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, Edited by T. Carmi


/ Photo by PugnoM /

Something today in honor of Hanukkah…

This song inspired by the face of God strongly hearkens back to the Aaronic or Priestly Blessing from the Torah (Numbers 6:24 – 27):

The LORD bless you and keep you:
The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
The LORD lift up his face upon you, and give you peace.

There are several strong images of Merkavah mysticism in this ancient song. We have a few references to the “wheel of the chariot.” The word Merkavah can be literally translated as “chariot” or “chariot of light.” It is the vehicle that mediates between the awareness of the devout mystic and the heavenly realms. This wheel imagery also evokes Ezekiel’s vision of a heavenly wheel, often seen as a fundamental vision of the Merkavah by Jewish mystics.

The Merkavah is sometimes also described as the shining “seat of the Most High.” Someone looking for yogic parallels might see the Merkavah as representing the scintillating crown chakra.

In Jewish and early Christian mysticism, we often get enigmatic references to the “bridal chamber.” The bridal chamber is the place of union between the king or bridegroom (God) and the servant or bride (purified individual consciousness). It is in the bridal chamber that the two become one as “newly-weds” and experience the bliss of union. The bridal chamber, in other words, is the holy of holies within the soul, the meeting ground between the Eternal and the individual.

I love the line, “Whoever looks at Him / immediately melts away.” According to a translator’s note, the literal phrase is something like “Whoever looks at him is emptied like a ladle.” What a beautiful metaphor for how, overcome with the vision of God, the ego-self pours into that vastness. It suggests release, emptiness, purification, while at the same time a merging with the immense vision of the Divine.

This is language that could just as easily have come to us from a Buddhist work.

The song continues with the lines:

Those who serve Him today
      no longer serve Him tomorrow;
those who serve Him tomorrow
      no longer serve Him afterwards;

It is not that mystics at this stage stop serving God; rather, that there is no separate individual left to do the serving. Their “faces are charred” — the separate identity is lost in the splendor of the vision. And when their “eyes grow dim,” it is not that they go blind in the literal sense; instead, the normal vision of multiplicity is lost. This radiant vision of oneness is described by many mystics as a sort of blindness. You may see the surface and form of things, but beneath it all is only the one radiance.

I’m also fascinated by the lines:

those on the right
      now stand again to the left,
those on the left
      now stand again to the right,
those in front
      now stand again in back,
those in back
      now stand again in front.

We’ve got a total reversal that also suggests a total unity. Opposites flip and become the other until no sense of polarity can remain. You find similar lines in the great Gnostic work the Gospel of Thomas. Everything is flipped, reversed, to be set back into proper order.

And near the end:

He who sees the one says,
      ‘That is the other’.
And he who sees the other says,
      ‘That is the one’.
For the visage of the one
      is like the visage of the other;
and the visage of the other
      is like the visage of the one.

These lines suggest to me the merging of the ego-self and the endless multiplicity of the universe into the divine unity, until the “other / is like the visage of the one.”

And continuously we return to the vision of mysterious, soul-nourishing light:

Happy the eye
      that sees
      and feeds
      upon this wondrous light –
            a wondrous vision
            and most strange!






Hekhalot Hymns (Anonymous)

Israel/Palestine (4th Century) Timeline
Jewish

The Hekhalot Hymns were composed by Jewish mystics.

The word “hekhalot” translates as “palaces” in reference to seven heavenly halls the Jewish mystic must safely pass through in order to approach the Merkavah (the divine throne or “chariot” — usually equated with the chariot of Ezekiel’s vision). The visionary who can make this sacred mystical journey is called a “descender to the chariot.”

Hekhalot mysticism also looks to the ascent of Moses up the mountain to receive the Torah from heaven as a template for the mystic’s journey to the Merkavah.

There are indications of early Hekhalot mysticism in the apocryphal Fourth Book of Ezra from around 100 CE:

“O Lord who inhabitest eternity, whose eyes are exalted and whose upper chambers [hekhaloth] are in the air, whose throne [merkavah] is beyond measure and whose glory is beyond comprehension, before whom the hosts of angels stand trembling and at whose command they are changed to wind and fire…”
– 4 Ezra 8:21-22a

Other passages in the Fourth Book of Ezra suggest that the hymns may have been dictated by mystics in deep states of ecstasy, while a scribe sat on either side and recorded the visionary utterances.

There is some disagreement among scholars when trying to date the Hekhalot Hymns, but the consensus is that they were composed sometime between 200 and 800 CE. The 4th century is a common date cited.

More poetry by Hekhalot Hymns (Anonymous)

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Hekhalot Hymns – The Face of God”

  1. jim carlinon 10 Dec 2012 at 12:57 pm

    peace
    and
    grace
    and
    love

  2. simonbaghon 11 Dec 2012 at 12:39 am

    as far as I have done surveys, I may say that, all those having visions of this sort, that are inquest of creating a form for their imaginations, nowadays better to cast a look at the Jesus and His life and His deeds on the earth in shape of human. just see how He could change the harsh behavior into the compassionate one without making use of any sort of power, and look at His follower’s amount that nowadays also do challenge to publicize compassion to introduce the true and living God as a Father to make one understand that God is for both side of life, He is for either life, life on earth, and in heaven so God is not just for after death just to vision Him also in the life to see, hear and to feel Him.

    Simon Baghdasarian,

  3. Pegon 12 Dec 2012 at 8:08 am

    In one of my trips into the cosmos, I saw to the right rows upon rows of what I understand to be the original blueprint of the human. To offer you an image of what this looked like, the man reminded me of the Visuvian Man by Leonardo Di Vinci.

    Another aspect of my spiritual growth was when I was out shopping or running errands and I would run into someone I used to work with or go to high school with. I would see them and then that night I would have lucid dreams and I would see what they look like on their other home in the stars. It was amazing. The passage:
    He who sees the one says,
    ‘That is the other’.
    And he who sees the other says,
    ‘That is the one’.
    For the visage of the one
    is like the visage of the other;
    and the visage of the other
    is like the visage of the one.
    reminds me of my experience of seeing people here and their home within the stars. We each have a counterpart of ourselves living within the stars. We are the other and the one. If I hate this other person, I literally am hating myself. This then is literal truth and not a metaphor to explain our relationship to God or how we all came from light. Though we all came from the same spark as God, we do not have to reach so far back to our origins to know that we are the “other” in the here and now.

    The throne of God is not a metaphor. For those that have not experienced their merkaba/merkava seat, there really is one and it is made of pure light. There is total peace and divine union when sitting in it. The felt sense of the body is not there, just pure energy, peace, bliss and union.

    It is interesting to see where we, myself included, pick and choose our metaphors within a poem and how it becomes dependent on our own spiritual awakenings and experiences.

    In the section “When the sapphire of the throne of glory
    whirls at them” this could be that he is seeing the blue/white light spiraling within his third eye or he is seeing the blue/white light pyramid ships in his third eye.

    It would be interesting to hear what others have experienced in their travels outside this third dimensional world. It is not only Ivan’s energy/consciousness that contributes to this site. As he works, we are there with him working together. Make sure that you bring into physical manifestation all of your participation by commenting and sharing through 3D language.

    Dear Simon, part of our spiritual journey is to remove oneself from this earthly reality. When you participate in this 3D reality, you choose a side, in other words, you are choosing polarity and adding to the entrenchment of one side over the other. The person on a spritual quest must drop all addiction and attachment to the physical world, which therefore helps to lessen the effects of duality and the polarity. Do not choose love over fear/hate in this world but keep your eye on the love of God. This will catapult you into these states of esctacy and bliss and divine union. This is the shift out of the bridal chamber. The bride and groom are duality.
    His splendour outshines
    the splendour of newly-weds
    in their bridal chamber.
    God is union and not dualistic. Loving God and creating within God’s spirit means that you create within union and not creating with dualistic energy. Our 3D reality is all dualistic as far as its creation that is why this world needs to fall away in order to literally see the face of God. All mystics, Jesus, Budda, Mary, Quan Yin all were able to transmute their being from a dualistic natures to divine union with the whole, all race of humans from earth and all those races that live throughout the cosmos and with God. I do appreciate your loving concern for our brothers and sisters here. Though the goal is divine union, the path to spiritual union is divinely sovereign and must be walked by the individual.

    Love and light and many blessings to all, Peg

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